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Bill Cotter

What was under the Brass Rail balloons?

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Can't quite see it but we're getting closer.

Looks like there was still an element of class in men's "going out in public" clothing in '64. Can you imagine going to a Fair or theme park in a suit today?

[This message has been edited by Gene (edited 06-19-2002).]

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Doug, if I remember correctly, the bubbles were stretched material, over a frame, not inflated. They didn't move with the wind, for example.

The photos I have been posting are slides that I scanned with a Nikon Coolscan scanner. It is the best thing I have ever seen for bringing old photos back to life. I have a pile of NYWF slides and am working my way through the disorganized stack of slides that fill two closets. I think I know where a bunch more Fair photos are and will see if I can dig them out soon. Glad you like them!

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This is the painful irony of hindsight. It's the same thing with my photos. No amateur photographer ever thinks to shoot the mundane and common. Like the inside of a snack bar, a phone booth or a garbage truck. But these things are of vital interest to some of us Fair nuts. Drat!

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What was under the roof of the Brass Rail was a formed fiberglass structure painted dark blue. It had bleacher type seating shaped like a horseshoe. In the center of the bleachers was the food counter and underneath the seating were restrooms.

I only recall being in the restrooms once. The reason for this was, at the time of the fair urban legends were going around saying young boys were being castrated in the Brass Rail's restrooms.

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I know what you mean, Mike. I worked for Disney for several years and have some very detailed photos of the Parks, including some great shots of the places without any guests. My friends used to ask me why I was taking pictures of signs, buildings, etc. and couldn't understand that I wanted to document what may not be there forever. Well, they laughed then, but try to get a picture of the Skyway, the subs or some other things like that at the parks today...

I did just find a whole box of photos from a day at the Fair site in 1987. I spent an hour crawling around the NY State pavilion and there are close-ups of the ruined escalator, lights, etc. - things that are that much harder to get today.

Unfortunately, most NYWF photos will tend to be of the Uncle Fred and Aunt Mary in front of the Unisphere type, but it is fun searching for nice shots of the Fair anyway. I do have some great 3D shots but don't have a clue yet on how to share those online. If anyone has some suggestions there please let me know.

Bill

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Hi Bill,

One of my many hobbies is 3D photography. I just started to dabble with digital photos. You must have stereo pairs in slide form. Let me know if its a different format. The challenge is to get them scanned well.

If they can be produced into photographs and posted online, then they can be 'free viewed' or viewed with very inexpensive hand held viewers (just a pair of lenses together, a much simpler version of the antique Holmes viewers).

The pairs can also be converted to anaglyph (red/blue) pictures and viewed with the cardboard glasses reminiscent of 3D movies. There's a couple of free download programs I found that will do this.

I can email you a couple of examples but I am far from perfecting it at this point.

[This message has been edited by MitchS (edited 06-19-2002).]

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The 3D photos are Realist stereo slides, in a variety of different mounts (plastic, metal and cardboard). I don't know what the best solution is for scanning them but will play with a few and see what I can come up with. Any suggestions as to how to best format them for freeviewing or to convert to red/blue format?

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Hi Bill,

I saw your post of the realist slide. The scan is great but the distance between the pairs is too much. If you can cut the middle out and bring the pairs together it should work fine on-line.

<a href=" nywf-kodak-3da.jpg" target="_blank"> nywf-kodak-3da.jpg</a>

Send me your email and I'll see if I can find the free anaglyph software and send it to you to play with.

Fun stuff!

[This message has been edited by MitchS (edited 06-20-2002).]

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The question was regarding the Brass Rail Restaurants. Doug asked, "Anybody know if those bubbles were hard fiberglass or inflated?" I always thought they were inflated, I can now tell you they were inflated. The web site below says it's an inflated balloon over a supporting frame.

Check the link below and search for Victor Lundy.

<a href="http://www.airairarchives.com/search2/index.php" target="_blank">http://www.airairarchives.com/search2/index.php</a>

It will be listed as "Ristoranti-tipo - Foire de New York".

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Hood, I am amazed at the stuff you find! Is the Lundy of Brass Rail the same Lundy of Lundy's Restaurant fame? Or an artist?

[This message has been edited by Mary Ellen (edited 07-29-2002).]

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I don't think they were actually inflated like a real balloon - I can remember looking up from under them, and am pretty sure it was just fabric stretched over a frame.

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Victor A. Lundy was an architect, if I'm not mistaken.

I remain unconvinced, however, that the BR bubbles were inflated, as in blowing up a balloon. Love to know for sure!

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Here's another view of the now famous Brass Rail Balloons:

nywf-food-court.jpg

This scan was taken from a CD of NYWF images sold on eBay by a seller with the name of BERKSBOY. I color corrected a bunch of them for him recently. There are some unusual shots on there, with a mixture of qualities. Who ever did some of the original scans used a very high compression factor. Still, there are some interesting angles like this one.

[This message has been edited by billcotter (edited 07-30-2002).]

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Great photo! I can remember walking by these facilities at the fair in '64; however, my folks were on such a tight budget we never ate at one (I can only recall eating at 7-Up and the Chung King Inn). They certainly were designed for easy construction and removal.

[This message has been edited by markallenmaine (edited 08-02-2002).]

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Our humble little snack bars have a noble history. Victor Lundy, Walter Bird and Frei Otto all had a hand in the project.

The early works of Walter Bird consisted mostly of pneumatic structures. In 1956, he started the Birdair Company. Bird went on to do the airport in Denver and the Millenium Dome in Greenwich, UK.

Frei Otto went on to do the German Pavilion, Expo67 and the 1972 Olympic Stadium in Munich.

In 1995, Catherine Bond wrote a paper presented to the New River Community College, titled THE USE OF FABRICS IN MODERN STRUCTURES. In it she writes, "The use of air pressure to support various membrane shapes was thoroughly investigated, as well as what tensions needed to be provided by cables to maintain the shape of the skin.

Air pressure is used in two ways. Negative air pressure is when there is less air than normal inside the building. Positive air pressure is like a balloon - more air is kept inside. Buildings that use air pressure are called pneumatic". Among the buildings listed, as an example is The Brass Rail Restaurant, New York World's Fair 1964.

The information posted by Catherine Bond seemed a little confusing so I wrote to her and asked specifically about the Brass Rail Snack Counters. Catherine wrote to me saying, "Golly. I wrote that paper about seven years ago, and my papers are in storage. …but the bubble structures (Brass Rail), I am sure, were positive air pressure (inflated)".

Lundy, Otto and Bird are still with Restaurant Associates (owners of the Brass Rails), not the great architects, the restaurants Lundy's, Otto's of NYC. Restaurant Associates also operate the Bird Room at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Walter Bird links <a href="http://www.birdair.com" target="_blank">http://www.birdair.com</a> <a href="http://www.birdair.com/birdair/profile/birdair/" target="_blank">http://www.birdair.com/birdair/profile/birdair/</a>

Frei Otto links <a href="http://www.engr.psu.edu/www/dept/arc/server/courses/ae439/ae439mdh.htm" target="_blank">http://www.engr.psu.edu/www/dept/arc/serve...39/ae439mdh.htm</a> <a href="http://freiotto.com/FreiOtto%20ordner/FreiOtto/Hauptseite.html" target="_blank">http://freiotto.com/FreiOtto%20ordner/Frei...Hauptseite.html</a>

Catherine Bond link <a href="http://www.vtaug.org/clbond/NRCCfabric.htm" target="_blank">http://www.vtaug.org/clbond/NRCCfabric.htm</a>

I have contacted a number of people and companies involved with the Brass Rail and hope to receive more information on the balloons.

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Well, that's good enough for me!

See if you can get more technical details, Hood.

I don't understand what you meant by this statement:

"Lundy, Otto and Bird are still with Restaurant Associates (owners of the Brass Rails), not the great architects, the restaurants Lundy's, Otto's of NYC."

Please explain.

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Thank you Mike, I thought it odd that the company that owned the Brass Rails designed by Lundy, Otto and Bird. Would now own restaurants named Lundy's and Otto's and run a catering hall name Bird.

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Revisiting Brass Rail for a moment:

".... 25 refreshment centers plus 6 specialty restaurants. Floor plans for ALL refreshment centers are identical. Only the roof coverings vary. Ten by Lundy (the Birdair baloons), the other 15 designed by Vollmer Associates of NYC, which have a roof structure that is a series of individual elongated diamond shapes."

So, was Frei Otto somehow associated with Vollmer? The "diamond 15" were very tent-like.

"The Brass Rail, a subsidiary of Interstate Vending Co., Chicago ......"

How does Interstate Vending tie in with Restaurant Associates?

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Can somebody point me to a picture of one of the Vollmer "diamond 15" ?

Also, did Otto also design the "Berlin" Pavilion?

It looks a lot like the concept of his Expo 67 German Pavilion and his 72 Munich Olympic Stadium (still my all time favorite stadium design- have visited there twice).

Randy

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